It has long become a cliché that social media is changing public relations, but which are the key tools you need to know to turn yourself from bumbling amateur into result-drive superstar?
1. Google Analytics
The standard tool for website statistics, Google Analytics is free, reliable and (mostly) easy to use. Advanced ecommerce sites can benefit from heavy duty paid-for tools, but for PR work Google Analytics lets you get all the key information about traffic levels, content popularity and how people find your stories.
2. Google Insights for Search
Want to know how people’s online search habits are changing and how they vary around the world? Need to see how people’s search patterns fluctuate during the year? Or just want a fun comparison between the relative online interest in God and the Devil? Google Insights for Search is your friend, providing essential data on how search terms compare.
3. Google Keywords Tool
Need to work out what keywords to optimise your online work for? Want to see what terms the public actually using when looking up something online? Turn to the Google Keywords Tool. Yet another free service from Google, its data is not perfect but is still a good starting point for finding out what terms people actually use and get suggestions for other terms you may want to target.
A simple one page service, Namechk lets you check your desired username against over 150 different web services and social. It is a great way to see quickly if you can get your chosen name on the services you really want — and also a smart way to see what services a rival brand or product name has taken up.
No, not Klout but PeerIndex. Klout may have got most of the attention, particularly in the US, but British based Peerindex has some rather better features when it comes to looking at who is making the best use of their Twitter accounts. PeerIndex’s tool to let you analyse all the members of a Twitter list in one fell swoop is especially nifty.
6. Facebook Insights
Relying on the crude total number of Likes for a Facebook Page tells you almost nothing of use. Instead you need to be an administrator of a page and plunge into the “View insights” option. Here lies a wealth of information about who is doing what and when with your page and its content. Essential for working out what is and isn’t working.
7. YouTube Analytics
As with Facebook and Pages, YouTube has a rich seam of extra data available to those who upload films. That in itself is a strong reason to put up films yourself rather than leaving it to third parties. For your own films, view them on the stand-alone YouTube page and then click on “Analytics”. Amongst the rich data that comes up, look out particularly for “Audience retention” which shows how viewership fluctuates as your film goes on.
8. Google Alerts
Google’s free email alerts service is the bedrock of many a PR team. To get the most of it, take a little while to learn about how to construct more advanced searches that sort the wheat from the chaff in your results.
The only tool in this list that does not have a free version, Radian6 is one of the market-leading online monitoring tools and with good reason. Its big advantage over rivals is a very flexible charging model. You are not tied into heavy long-term costs and can instead stop and start searches with great flexibility at very competitive prices.
Free for entry level use and cheap for more intensive use, Hootsuite lets you manage multiple social media accounts all from one secure webpage, schedule content and even have a team of people work effectively together to manage one or more accounts.
Despite some reliability hiccups, Bufferapp has become the must-have scheduling tool. Tools such as Hootsuite let you schedule social network updates but Bufferapp goes one step further — smartly slotting future updates in to the most effective timeslots to get them read.
Last, but by no means least, is the most popular website with a Libyan domain name,bit.ly (the .ly is for brevity rather than due to any Libyan origin of the tool). Originally designed with just URL shortening in mind, bit.ly now also has great attraction as the generator of very useful statistics: are people clicking on your link, where are they, who is retweeting it and so on.
So that’s my dozen. No such list, whether it has 12 or 12,000 entries is definitive or static for all time. What is your favourite tool that you would add?